Roaming Charges: Caught in a Classic Trap

Tiger wall mural behind concertina wire, warehouse district, Portland, Oregon. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Governments who manipulate population growth have two choices: making maternity pleasant, or making it inescapable.

– Kate Millett, Sexual Politics

+ The US running out of infant formula at the same time the Domestic Infant Supply is about to increase sets up the next GOP bodily mandate: compulsory breast-feeding (though not in public).

+ According to the Washington Post, Republicans are getting more and more confident that the overturning of Roe v. Wade will not seriously harm their chances of regaining House and Senate majorities come November. This seems to me  like a pretty solid bet for the GOP. How stupid do you have to be to vote for the same people who said they’d defend abortion rights and didn’t, expecting them to reinstate the very rights that were lost on their watch.

+ There have been 11 murders of abortion clinic workers since 1990 and 41 bombings and 173 arsons at abortion clinics since 1977.

+ Eric Rudolph, the Centennial Park (Atlanta Olympics) bomber, was an anti-abortion zealot and member of the Army of God, who conducted a series of terrorist attacks across the American South from 1996-98 that injured and maimed more than 100 people.

+ Sen Dick Durbin on protests outside Alito and Kavanaugh’s houses: “I think it’s reprehensible. Stay away from the homes and families of elected officials and members of the court.”

+ Tom Cotton wants to go even further. He’s demanding that Biden invoke

+ The Supreme Court has conducted a no-knock raid into our bedrooms, but we can’t stand on the sidewalk in front of their houses…

+ Andrew Lawrence: “The Right will defend Rittenhouse and 1/6 and pass laws that you can use your car to run over protesters and Democrats will condemn their own voters for chanting loudly outside someone’s house.”

+ In the 90s, the Supreme Court held in Madsen v. Women’s Health Center that protesting outside people’s “private homes” was protected by the First Amendment–the private homes of people who work at abortion clinics.

+ Justice Harry Blackmun faced constant harassment after the release of his opinion in Roe, including thousands of death threats, many very graphic. Blackmun said he’d been called “Butcher of Dachau, murderer, Pontius Pilate, King Herod, you name it.” In 1983, someone fired a shot into the Blackmun’s townhouse in DC. Blackmun had just walked out of the room, but the 9 mm round put a baseball size hole in the window and showered glass on Mrs. Blackmun who was sitting in the room, when the bullet struck a nearby chair.

+ Q: “Are you comfortable with the protests that we saw outside the homes of Supreme Court justices over the weekend?”

Sen. Chuck Schumer: “If protests are peaceful; yes. My house, there’s protests 3-4 times a week outside my house.”

+ You know how off-the-rails (including the third) politics has gotten in the US when Schumer starts to make sense…?

+ The Right smells blood, the Democrats smell a fundraising gimmick…

+ Who needs a filibuster, when you’ve got Joe Manchin running interference for you?

+ They couldn’t even muster a simple majority, never mind the 60 votes they needed…

+ Louisiana’s abortion ban bill says the state can disregard any federal court order curtailing the law and that state judges who declare the law unconstitutional or stay enforcement will be impeached…

+ In Texas, some pharmacists  are already refusing to fill prescriptions to treat miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies because the drugs and procedures used to treat them are also used for abortions.

+ Adam Serwer: “One problem with the idea that Democrats will benefit from a backlash to Roe being overturned is that the party leadership don’t seem to like the idea of there being a backlash to Roe being overturned.”

+ The Democrats seem much more concerned about access to the internet than an abortion…

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+ Biden wanted another $33 billion for aid to Ukraine. Congress upped it to $40 and all the Democrats, including AOC and Omar, voted for it.

+ With another $40 billion Ukraine aid package galloping through Congress, Biden has finally found his bipartisan project and he’s willing to risk a recession, refueling the pandemic and nuclear war to get it…

+ “Slow down?” Rand’s dad used to vote “No, in thunder”–except, of course, for the most consequential vote of all, on the original AUMF, where Barbara Lee stood alone…

+ It’s triage at home, blank checks to Ukraine…

+ When Tom Friedman gets to your left on Ukraine perhaps it’s time for a course correction….

+ So Putin’s war to keep NATO from expanding to its border has resulted in a nation (Finland) on Russia’s border, a stone’s throw from Putin’s hometown, applying to join NATO. NATO, which had pretty much been left for dead in Europe after the Yugoslavian wars, suddenly has been resurrected, flush with weapons, money and a re-branded raison d’être. Putin now has the permanent threat on Russia’s border that he can use to justify a tightened grip on power and a build-up of weapons Russia can’t afford. The Ukraine war benefits all the players, except of course average Ukrainians and the ethnic national conscripts in the Russian Army who have been pushed forward as Javelin missile fodder on the frontlines of the fighting.

+ This is the charitable interpretation, along the lines of Walter Karp’s Indispensable Enemies. That is: Superpowers need Super Enemies to justify their “super” existence and super-sized military spending. An uncharitable one is that Putin is not nearly as smart as many of fans on the Left believe him to be and that his snap-invasion of Ukraine played right into NATO’s hand, ranking as the biggest strategic blunder since April Glaspie enticed Saddam into claiming Kuwait as the 19th province of Iraq…

+ The people who instigate Doomsday will be its only survivors–flying the smoking ruins of the planet in their Doomsday jetliners. Putin has his own & it didn’t make an expected appearance at Victory Day, which may be a sign it’s being gassed for the main event

+ No Shit Newswire…Herbert Diess, CEO of Volkswagen, during a virtual interview for the Financial Times’ Future of the Car summit: “I think we should do the utmost to really stop this war (in Ukraine) and get back to negotiations.”

+ Dolphin deaths are mounting in the Black Sea as a consequence of use of sonars and constant underwater noise caused by military activities in the Ukraine war…

+ A commentary on Tsargrad.tv, the Russian television network owned by Putin pal Konstantin Malofeev and designed by former Fox News producer Jack Hanick: “Our opponents in the West are a satanic sect of sodomites and paedophiles. We should have no illusions about what kind of people lead the collective West, which is preparing to use all its might to destroy Russia, because we’re not like them.”

+ It should be noted that one of the greatest Russians, Leo Tolstoy, was almost certainly bi-sexual.

+ Who will pay (and who will get paid) to put Ukraine back together again?

+ The share of Greek tankers shipping oil out of Russian ports is up from 37% before the war to 55% since the invasion.

+ Given the advance hype, much of it generated by the war-hungry Western press, I was expecting more from Putin’s Victory Day speech. Yet it proved to be something of a let-down. There wasn’t a declaration of victory and now it’s time to pack up and go home. Contrarily, there was no announcement of expanding the war to claim Odessa or topple Kyiv. He didn’t call for a plebiscite on annexation of the Donbas or call up Russia’s military reserves. On the whole, it was a curious speech: sober and fairly dull. Putin talked a lot about Nazis controlling the Zelensky government, but even he didn’t seem to take the rhetoric too seriously. If Ukraine is full of Nazis, it would, of course, call into question the meaning of the great triumph of 1946 that Victory Day is meant to celebrate. How could the Red Army have smashed the Nazis, if there are still so many of them around on Russia’s own doorstep? Putin’s bland, rather aimless speech is probably the best indication of the long, bloody summer of mutual destruction to come, where each side is locked in a cycle of attack, massacre, advance, counter-attack, massacre and retreat.

+ If you want an idea of what the war in Ukraine looks like on the ground, and who is paying the price, I suggest digging into this report documenting Russian airstrikes on apartment buildings prepared by Amnesty International after an investigation by human rights lawyer (and occasional CounterPunch contributor) Joanne Mariner.

+ How many wars do the neocons want at once? Why not just combine them all into One Big Blast!

+ “Mr. President, I’m not saying we wouldn’t get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops. Uh, depending on the breaks.”

+++

+ Thomas Merton: “When I criticize a system, they think I criticize them – and that is of course because they fully accept the system and identify themselves with it.

+ Hours after the IDF shot a Palestinian-American journalist in the head and tried to blame it on non-existent “Palestinian gunmen”, we get this rancid posturing from the Senator from Florida seeking to prohibit federal funding to an organization that’s never gotten any…

+ Laila Al-Arian: “Saying Israel has ‘no reason or interest’ to kill a Palestinian journalist ignores the racism and dehumanization of Palestinians that has not only allowed crimes against them for decades but is the basis for the establishment of a system of laws and policies called apartheid.”

+ There’s no greater honor for a journalist than to have the police state you’ve written about your entire career–the same police state which murdered you while you were doing your job–descend en masse at your funeral, savagely beat your mourners and try to defile your corpse.

+ Post-Traumatic Torturer Syndrome: “Shortly after he left Guantánamo…Mr X started drinking…He toyed with the idea of killing himself. A doctor diagnosed him with severe PTSD—the kind of trauma one would expect to find in his victim.”

+ A new National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) paper finds immigrants are 80% more likely to become founders of businesses than US-born citizens. The study reports that “Immigrants act more as ‘job creators’ than ‘job takers’… non-US born founders play outsized roles in US high-growth entrepreneurship.” Immigrants make up 25% of all founders in the US, despite being only 15% of the population. Almost 40% of founding teams include one immigrant.  Who will tell, Tucker?

+ Why we can’t have nice things…

Top 10 Lobby Groups of 2021

US Chamber of Commerce: $66.4 million
National Association of Realtors: $44 M
PhRMA: $30.4 M
Business Roundtable: $29.1 M
Blue Cross: $25.2 M
American Hospital Associationn: $25.1 M
Meta/Facebook: $20.1 M
American Medical Association: $19.5 M
Amazon: $19.3 M
American Chemical Council: $16.6 M

(Source: Open Secrets)

+ The Biden administration is predicting 100 million COVID cases this winter. The COVID fatality rate has remained pretty steady at 1% during past waves, which means we’re likely to see a million extra deaths this winter. Heckuva time to put COVID funding on hold in order to provide missiles to Ukraine and 24/7 security for Supreme Court justices.

+ When the Alito Court shreds the last remnants of ObamaCare, nearly the entire country, including most of its kids, will have been infected by COVID and thus have a pre-existing condition, giving insurance companies the right to reject coverage or jack up premiums.

+ Dr. Jeffrey Kahn, chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Disease at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas: “It’s startling how many of these children present and have a range of symptoms that we haven’t fully appreciated. Some are coming in with heart failure after asymptomatic Covid infections.”

+ According to new modeling from scientists in China and the US, China risks experiencing more than 1.5 million COVID deaths if it relaxes its zero-COVID policy without any additional safeguards such as acceleration vaccination rates (especially of the elderly).

+ 4 million: the number of Syrian refugees in Turkey.

+ Pelosi and Biden are nostalgic for the Republican Party of Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms, Bob Dornan and Newt Gingrich, people they could have lunch with at Le Diplomat…

+ Pelosi’s about to see just how strong the current “cult” of Republicans is…

+ Biden would have invited Justice Roger Taney for a beer summit after his Dred Scott opinion was published…

+ A third of American adults now believe in the Great Replacement Theory, the idea that there’s a plan to replace native-born Americans with new immigrants for electoral purposes.

+ Don’t know about you, but I’m more than ready to be replaced for electoral–or almost any other–purpose. Come and get it, what there is of it…

+ Real wages in the US have been falling over the last year and are now at or below pre-pandemic levels.

+ Bill Maher: “Student loan forgiveness is a loser issue for the party that wants to win back the working class.”

+ Tuition cost when Bill Maher went to Cornell: $3,000 per year.

+ Actual Tuition cost to Cornell today: $59,000 per year.

+ This week in Eric Adams: defending NYPD cops who handcuffed a woman for selling mangoes in the subway: “Next day its propane tanks in the subway. The next day it’s barbecuing.”

+ To the extent the Democratic Party has a future, it’s probably going to be a lot like Eric Adams, pompous, mean-spirited and tough on every one who is too weak to fight back..

+ Here’s an alternate fact for you, Brent: Trump was banned from Twitter on January 9, 2021, three days after his rent-a-riot on Capitol Hill.

+ According to a new report commissioned by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, more than 500 missing Indigenous children reported dead after being taken from their homes by the US government and forced into 19 boarding schools run largely by the Catholic Church. The real death toll is probably in the thousands. Can’t wait to see how this is revolting chapter of US history gets translated in the Patriotic Textbooks of Texas and Florida…

“Under U.S. military control, surviving Apache children were forcibly removed from their families and shipped by train to the Carlisle Indian Industrial School…Some some Apache children never returned- comprising one-fourth of Carlisle gravesites.”

+ Corporate crime in America has achieved herd immunity.

+ Arizona prison officials struggled for more than 25 minutes to insert IV lines into Clarence Dixon before his execution on Wednesday morning. Finally, they sliced into his groin area and had to “wipe up a fair amount of blood” before they could kill him. Nothing cruel or unusual here, alas. This is the way almost all executions in the US take place these days.

+ A state audit found that police departments across California engage in bigoted and racist behavior, including social media posts and conversations between officers that mocked transgender people, women, Latinos, Black people and immigrants.

+ San Francisco police are now using driverless cars for mobile surveillance. The cars “record their surroundings continuously” and transmit the data to police.

+ Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez’s office is “looking into” reports that dead and unwitting people have been appointed to positions in the borough’s Democratic Party. (The “unwitting” part at least proves they’re Democrats.)

+ Help is on the way! Soon the US will have a surplus in the Domestic Infant Supply which we can lend-lease-or-sell to Japan in its moment of demographic crisis. Bound to help balance the trade deficit, too.

+ Speaking of Trump, his administration worked in concert with executives from the meatpacking industry to cultivate unfounded fears of a meat shortage during the pandemic in order to justify forcing workers to work in unsafe conditions. A meatpacking industry official actually wrote the Defense Production Act order to keep the plants open. At least, 269 meatpacking workers have died of COVID.

+ Gibbon: “Of the various forms of government which have prevailed in the world, an hereditary monarchy seems to present the fairest scope for ridicule.”

+++

+ It’s now a near certainty that the Earth will surpass 1.5C of warming between 2022 and 2026 and that one of those years will be the hottest on record. In 2015, the chances of world temperatures temporarily exceeding 1.5C over the next five years were close to zero.

+ For a 50% chance of 1.5° C avoidance U.S. coal production must fall by 50% within five years and end by 2030, according to a new study from the University of Manchester. Meanwhile, oil and gas production must fall by 74% by 2030 and end entirely by 2035. For a 67% chance of 1.5° C avoidance, U.S. oil and gas production must end by 2031.

+ Planned drilling projects across US land and waters will release 140 billion metric tons of planet-heating gases if fully implemented, according to an analysis published by Energy Policy Journal.

+ Energy Policy’s study identifies the 425 biggest fossil fuel extraction projects  in the world, ‘carbon bombs, whose combined potential emissions will exceed the global 1.5 °C budget by a factor of two.

+ Most of the top-performing companies on the S&P are oil or energy firms…

+ In September 2020 Zoom’s market cap surpassed Exxon’s. Now Exxon’s market cap is 13 times the size of Zoom’s.

+ Thousands of birds are literally falling out of the sky every day as a result of India’s heat wave.

+ The ecological loss of these birds deaths is incalculable. But it might be possible to put a pricetage on the die-offs. An article in Ecological Economics estimates that being around 14 or more bird species was the equivalent to the participants earning an extra $190 a month, based on a monthly income of $1,837.

+ A new paper in Nature says that episodes of “extreme heat” (based on 1950-1980 definition) are now 90 times more common than it was 50 years ago.

+ Vehicle use declined sharply during the pandemic. Even so, according to the EPA, the national average concentration of Particulate Matter 2.5 was 8 percent higher in 2020 than it was in 2019.

+ An oil tanker with 1.1 million barrels of crude on board, has been moored off the Yemeni port of Hodeida since 2015, without being serviced. The tanker is at risk of breaking up at any moment. The UN says the cost of the clean-up will be at least $20 billion. But as we know from the Exxon Valdez, you can spend billions “cleaning it up” and never even begin to repair the damage…

+ The 16.5 million acre Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska stores nearly 20% of the carbon in the entire national forests system.

+ In Idaho, the Forest Service’s own records show that the agency has authorized or actively considered 86,000 acres of logging inside inventoried roadless areas.

+ The Forest Service’s Grazing Statistical Summary for 2020 (the most recent available) discloses that 1,017,108 cattle and 790,650 sheep grazed on national forest land. The agency, unlike the BLM, doesn’t disclose the environmental condition of the lands grazed upon, but much, if not most, of it is degraded.

+ When the Chamber of Commerce praises your Trump-like plan to exempt infrastructure projects from environmental and health and safety reviews, you know you’ve achieved something your segregationists pals would have been proud of…

+ Gone with the tide…

+ 91% of the Great Barrier Reef suffered coral bleaching in the last 12 months.

+ In West Africa, crop yields are projected to fall by 20 to 40 percent, and possibly more, as a consequence of climate change….

+++

+ Now that it looks like the Marcos family will be running the Philippines again, let’s revisit the Beatles’ narrow escape from Manila…

+ The bi-annual excavation of my office is usually a thankless and unrewarding task, involving digging through unsolicited review copies of Who Killed JFK books, hate mail, FOIA rejections, and notebooks whose pages are sealed together by a mysterious orange fungus. But this year I struck gold in re-locating a book that I used to read nearly every day, back when film seemed like the last vital cultural medium: Andrew Sarris’ Interviews with Film Directors. I turned to the interview with Luis Buñuel, where he’s talking about Un Chien Andalou: “The film was made 32 years ago and I don’t remember much about our collaboration. What I know about Dali and me is that we now belong to totally different realms. For Dali has gone to a world of men who make money.”

+ Yuri Knorozov, the Russian linguist who deciphered the Mayan script, listed his cat Asya as a co-author on his work but the editors always removed her credit.

+ Baudelaire’s diet during the winter of 1866: “opium, digitalis, belladonna and brandy.” And he still outlived Jim Morrison by 13 years.

+ Sagittarius-A*–the black hole gnawing away at the center of the Milky Way–has an entropy value of ~10^90, which is more entropy than exists in the known universe (outside of black holes). Over to you, Thomas Pynchon, wherever you are…

+ Werner Herzog on James Cameron’s Avatar: “I admire the achievements, the technical achievements, but the film is an abomination because of its New Age schlock and bullshit. When I see them sitting in some sort of collective meditation or yoga or collective yoga class, it just makes me cringe. I want to be somewhere else, far away from the cinema.”

+ My theory is this country went into the crapper after Waylon Jennings died and now all the faux-outlaws are driving around in pickup trucks they took out loans to buy only because they needed someplace to plant their blue lives matter flags. Prove me wrong…

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

Memories of Starobielsk: Essays Between Art and History
Józef Czapski
Trans. Alissa Valles
(NYRB)

Chasing the Ghost Bear: On the Trail of America’s Lost Super Beast
Mike Stark
(Bison Books)

The Politics of Immunity: Security and the Policing of Bodies
Mark Neocleous
(Verso)

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

Opening
Tord Gustavson Trio
(ECM)

Citizen Kane Jr Blues, 1974: Live at the Bottom Line
Neil Young
(Reprise)

Sincere
Hater
(Fire Records)

The Classic Trap

“The classic trap for any revolutionary is always, “What’s your alternative?” But even if you could provide the interrogator with a blueprint, this does not mean he would use it: in most cases he is not sincere in wanting to know. In fact this is a common offensive, a technique to reflect revolutionary anger and turn it against itself. Moreover, the oppressed have no job to convince all people. All they need know is that the present system is destroying them.”

– Shulamith Firestone

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His most recent books are Bernie and the Sandernistas: Field Notes From a Failed Revolution and The Big Heat: Earth on the Brink (with Joshua Frank) He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net or on Twitter @JeffreyStClair3